May 272015
 

ernesto-oroza-desobediencia-2-recife-2015

Desobediência Tecnológica – Ernesto Oroza
Caixa Cultural Recife
27/05/2015 a 28/06/2015
Com curadoria de Fernanda Terra – Produção da Museo Museologia e Museografia – Cenotécnica e Iluminação Arts Monta Design.
Curated by Fernanda Terra – Production by Museo Museologia e Museografia – Design, installation and lighting by Arts Monta Design
Curada por Fernanda Terra – Producción de Museo Museología y Museografía –  Diseño, instalación e iluminación de Arts Monta Design.

Laercio Portela para Marco Zero Conteúdo sobre la exposición Desobediencia Tecnológica curada por Fernanda Terra para Caixa Cultural Recife: http://marcozero.org/brasilia-teimosa-periferia-de-havana/

see photos on Brasilia Teimosa/Recife Centro/Pina: HERE

(See photos)

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Nov 202013
 

Georgia Bullets
Gean Moreno & Ernesto Oroza
November 12 –  December 21
CCE Miami

Georgia Bullets is a project that runs parallel to TAPAS: Spanish Design for Food, a major traveling exhibition that focuses on the work of Spanish designers in relation to food and culinary cultures. Georgia Bullets assumes a perspective that is, at once, the opposite of and a compliment to the relationship between professional design and culinary production: it looks at the anonymous and popular configurations that emerge around local food cultures. It focuses on non-professional production of objects, graphics, and behaviors within the context in which they are generated and employed. It also aims to understand how this localized production deals with the multitude of generic objects which, due to their economic accessibility, have invaded the city.

Along with an exhibition component, the project includes a pair of workshops with students from DASH (Design and Architecture Senior High School) and with students from the Culinary Institute of Miami Dade College. A 32-page tabloid, in a run of 20,000 copies, has been produced as an integral part of Georgia Bullets and will distributed at various points throughout the city. The tabloid is part of an editorial project–www.tabloid.org–that Moreno and Oroza have been developing since 2009.

Special thanks to Julie Kahn for allowing us to present a slideshow related to her project Swamp Cabbage, an investigation into local Florida food cultures, as part of this exhibition.

Georgia bullets at Design Log

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Nov 022013
 
Gerogia Bullets - CCE Miami - 2013

Gerogia Bullets – CCE Miami – 2013

Images here

Opening Nov 12, 2013 – on view until December 21
At CCEMiami – Free admission

Exhibition by Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza, as a parallel project to TAPAS: Spanish Design for Food. It will include a 32-page Tabloid, workshops with students from DASH and the Culinary Institute at Miami Dade College, and different collection of objects.

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Feb 132013
 

ernesto-oroza---gean-moreno---drywood
Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza: Drywood
February 7 – March 28, 2013
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 7, 2013, from 7 to 10pm

Alejandra von Hartz Gallery is pleased to present “Drywood,” a solo exhibition of collaborative works by Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza. The show runs from February 7 to March 28, 2013. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, February 7th, from 7 to 10pm.

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Feb 072013
 

Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza: Drywood
February 7 – March 28, 2013
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 7, 2013, from 7 to 10pm

Alejandra von Hartz Gallery is pleased to present “Drywood,” a solo exhibition of collaborative works by Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza. The show runs from February 7 to March 28, 2013. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, February 7th, from 7 to 10pm.

As they have done in their previous research-driven projects, Moreno and Oroza begin by zeroing in on contemporary variations of an object typology — in this case, they began with the souvenir — in an effort to understand how it functions in relation to forces of contemporary production, the generation of urban morphology and identity, and the changing terrain of user engagement. With this new project, they seek to understand how generic production, embodied in the souvenir, stands as both the ultimate horizon of rationalization in object design and a generative force that increasingly determines our urban environments. At Alejandra von Hartz Gallery, Moreno and Oroza will present a series of concrete spheres which, during the casting process, swallowed souvenir objects. These are an effort to mesh two objects that are distributed throughout the city: the generic spheres that serve as obstacles and place-markers and artifacts that serve to develop identity narratives for the city. The layout of the spheres and the quantity employed has been determined by the wooden sheets (modules) that make up the gallery’s floor.
Along with the spheres, Moreno and Oroza will present a series of compositions, assembled by others, that employ pages from the Tabloid (www.thetabloid.org) that they have been producing over the last four years. The display of these compositions will be determined by the metric constraints of the standard tabloid. The Tabloid has served as a repository for their research and texts, a documentary vehicle, and a space to enlarge the discursive space of their practice and the exhibitions in which they participate. Hans Ulrich Obrist, Joe Scanlan, Yona Friedman, Hito Steyerl, and Peter Lang, among a number of other theorists and cultural producers, have contributed to the Tabloid. Moreno and Oroza will also present a bootleg copy of Glauber Rocha’s film Cancer and zines filled with pirated essays by Argentinean designer-painter-theorist Tomas Maldonado and Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha.
Download Tabloid # 24 here

For more information, please contact the gallery at info@alejandravonhartz.com or call 305.438.0220. Please, visit our website at www.alejandravonhartz.net
Alejandra von Hartz Gallery
2630 NW 2nd. Avenue

Copyright Oriol Tarridas_2013

Drywood — Hunter Braithwaite
2013/03/17
http://artforum.com/picks/section=us#picks39518
“Drywood,” the title of this exhibition, refers to Cryptotermes brevis, a termite that can survive with barely any water, relying on six rectal glands to retain all moisture from digested matter. Endemic in Florida, it is an apt symbol in the hands of Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza, who here use the insect to signify another tropical infestation—the tourist souvenir. Just like a termite gnaws through walls, a souvenir eliminates the distance between cities and undermines their autonomous identity by propagating a simplistic, generic reading of a place. For their first exhibition at this gallery, Moreno and Oroza have placed twelve cement balls—each fifteen inches in diameter—in two neat rows across the front space. Before the concrete was poured, the artists stuffed the molds for the balls with Florida-branded beach towels featuring dolphins and sunsets, and now the spheres hemorrhage patches of brightly colored terrycloth. In its raw materiality and its role as a protective shell, the concrete hints at both the manufacture and the transportation of these souvenir items. Moreover, the anonymous surfaces, crisp and unadorned save for the prints of sea turtles peeking through, underscore the inherent sameness of all tourist items—the tchotchke Platonic ideal.

But the cracking face of the spheres realizes a breakdown of the logical dissemination of the souvenir and similar consumer items, a crisis that is examined in the rest of the show. Stapled to the walls in ordered repetition are twenty-four issues of Tabloid, Moreno and Oroza’s single-page newsprint journal, at once a record of their practice and an ongoing critique of mass production. A bootleg copy of Glauber Rocha’s 1972 Brazilian film Cancer plays in the back room. The visceral memory of the Brazilian avant-garde is evoked by Rocha’s self-proclaimed experiment in minimal editing, and within this streamlined world of the spheres and the newspapers, it is a rambling, amorphous intrusion. Like the termite, the film burrows through the traditional borders of shot and scene by actively ignoring editing. Here is the crux of Moreno and Orozas’s argument—an attempt to unite the production and distribution of souvenirs through the strange biology of termites. Throughout the show, the uneasy placement of the objects foreshadows future rupture. The artists have set the spheres on the cracks between the floorboards and one, set off by the crack, seems to be threatening to tunnel—not unlike Cryptotermes brevis—right through the drywall.

— Hunter Braithwaite

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Jan 222013
 

orange tsunami
Gean Moreno & Ernesto Oroza: Orange tsunami

Wharton + Espinosa is pleased to present “Orange Tsunami,” the first West Coast solo exhibition of collaborative works by Miami-based artists Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza. With an opening reception on January 17 from 5:30-8:30PM, the show runs through March 8, 2013. As part of “Orange Tsunami,” Moreno and Oroza have published Tabloid #23 (download the PDF here).

What would happen if all the shops in a tourist location would begin to be invaded by an abstract souvenir that everyone recognized as a malefic mass? Or what would happen if someone attempted to produce a souvenir that sought less to draw an emotional link to a private experience than to liberate the forces of sidetracked emancipatory projects? What would happen if a devastating invasive species leapt into the field of souvenir production and became a sign of the place it is devastating? – GM + EO

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Jan 172013
 

Gean Moreno & Ernesto Oroza: ORANGE TSUNAMI

http://www.agencycontemporaryart.com/cat/exhibition_january-march_2013/

Wharton + Espinosa is pleased to present “Orange Tsunami,” the first West Coast solo exhibition of collaborative works by Miami-based artists Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza. With an opening reception on January 17 from 5:30-8:30PM, the show runs through March 8, 2013. As part of “Orange Tsunami,” Moreno and Oroza have published Tabloid #23 (download the PDF here).

What would happen if all the shops in a tourist location would begin to be invaded by an abstract souvenir that everyone recognized as a malefic mass? Or what would happen if someone attempted to produce a souvenir that sought less to draw an emotional link to a private experience than to liberate the forces of sidetracked emancipatory projects? What would happen if a devastating invasive species leapt into the field of souvenir production and became a sign of the place it is devastating? – GM + EO

As they have done in their previous research-driven projects, Moreno and Oroza begin by zeroing in on contemporary variations of an object typology — in this case, they began with the souvenir — in an effort to understand how it functions in relation to forces of contemporary production, the generation of urban morphology and identity, and the changing terrain of user engagement. In a previous project entitled Pre-City, for instance, they sought to understand how an abstract plane made up of the different but limited shapes, specific metrics, and repeating objects that make up the stocks of building depots, construction sites, landscape nurseries, home improvement stores, and even pet stores, becomes a determining set of codes and sequences that simultaneously constrains and open distortive new potentials in urban morphology and city production.
In physics, a moiré pattern is an interference or distortion created when two grids are overlaid at misaligned angles or slightly different mesh sizes. As part of their 2010 Quebec Biennial project entitled The Moiré House (Or, ‘Urbanism’ for Emptying Cities), Moreno and Oroza posited the “Moiré House” as a space where two or more functional fields meet to confuse and expand a house’s main function. The tense exchange of the incompatible demands placed upon it serves to become the structure’s most telling quality and dominant marker of identity. Economic downturns are often the accelerating contextual force that causes this form to proliferate. “Imagine diagramming the residential functions of a house as a pattern, and then imagine over­laying upon that a second pattern of functions usually not associated to the home: a ham-curing establishment, beauty salon, cake shop, scrap collection yard, or marijuana growing house.” The visual field of these superimposed functions, engaging these multiple patterns, produce a Moiré effect.
In “Orange Tsunami,” the artists use an invasive pattern of object organization, undermining the standard normally dictated by the gallery’s natural architectural shape. This complicates the design and layout of the existing structure to create a framework that skews the natural rigid logic of gallery constructs. It removes decision-making based on intuition and design codification to perpetuate this Moiré effect.
Photos courtesy of Jayson Kellogg

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Dec 182012
 

ernesto-oroza-ujamaa

more info at Aluna Art Foundation website

UJAMAA: Inertia of the Vine
Works by Ernesto Oroza

From December 5th to January 15th/2013 at Aluna Art Foundation | Focus Locus

An installation that derives its name from a political group which sought in Africa the utopia of collectivism accounting for traces of anonymous and collective forms of creation, in which the fatality of nature and culture constitutes not only a symbiosis but a cycle of endless return.
Aluna Curatorial Collective

Ujamaa. Inertia of the vine

The Bejuco (climbing woody vine of the tropics) is the son of Dadá.The Bejuco, which has the same autistic inertia as Kurt Schwitter’s “Merzbau”, is the son of Dada Baldoné, the Yoruba goddess of vegetables. A rural ─and strangely universal─ myth asserts that all the bejucos are only one –an interminable one. It is even said that there is a great circle. Others speak of many “bejucos” forming closed loops, huge plant rings where the logic of the infinite is multiplied. In any case, if you find an end, it means that a circle has been broken.

The persistent and whimsical strength that inhabits the bejuco lies hidden in the city. It animates some bodies, collapses others; it nourishes unexpected flows. The accumulations of wood around some trees in the city come to my mind. The wooden trunk, processed and “shrunken”, returns to its origin. Baldoné, who is bejuco sap and guizazo seeds, shakes the vegetable kingdom, rejects the carpenter’s epiphany: the technological grain and edge. Wood is wood. The movement of the stick in the city makes a loop. From tree to tree, it closes a circle. In the meantime, because that is what Dadá permits, the trunk is subject of labor, time unit, exchange value, subject to rule. Or at least it is ideally that.

There where things cannot be named as Home Legend Honey, Marazzi Imperial Slate, Three Rivers Gold Slate – where Home Depot has not yet arrived – materials are subjugated by the force of need, that latency as powerful as the bejuco, which can contain a coffee field or drown a river.

Ujamaa. Inercia de bejuco

Bejuco es hijo de Dadá. El bejuco, que tiene la misma inercia autista del merzbau de Schwitter es hijo de Dada baldoné la diosa yoruba de los vegetales. Se afirma en un mito rural y extrañamente universal que todos lo bejucos son uno solo, si encuentras un extremo significa que se ha roto un círculo. Según la leyenda hay bejucos cerrados que forman enormes lazos, se aíslan al unir sus dos extremos, la naturaleza queda suspendida por su propia lógica.

La fuerza persistente y caprichosa que habita en el bejuco subyace en la ciudad. Anima cuerpos, colapsa otros, alimenta inesperados flujos. Pienso en las acumulaciones de maderas alrededor de algunos arboles en la ciudad. El palo, procesado y “consumido”, retorna a su origen. Baldoné, que es baba de bejuco y semilla de guizazo sacude el universo vegetal, rechaza la epifanía del carpintero: la cara y el canto tecnológicos. Madera es madera. Hace un lazo (loop) el movimiento del palo por la urbe. De árbol a árbol cierra un círculo. En el ínterin, porque eso es lo que permite Dadá, el madero es sujeto de labor, unidad de tiempo, valor de cambio, objeto de norma. O al menos idealmente.

Alli donde las cosas no pueden ser nombradas como Home Legend Honey, Marazzi Imperial Slate, Three Rivers Gold Slate, –donde aun no arriba Home Depot– las materias están subyugadas por la fuerza de la necesidad, esa latencia tan poderosa como el bejuco, que puede encerrar un campo de café o ahogar un rio.

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Dec 012012
 

w-oroza-benches-5

A research that derives its name from a political group which sought in Africa the utopia of collectivism accounting for traces of anonymous and collective forms of creation, in which the fatality of nature and culture constitutes not only a symbiosis but a cycle of endless return.

Ujamaa. Inertia of the vine

The Bejuco (climbing woody vine of the tropics) is the son of Dadá. The Bejuco, which has the same autistic inertia as Kurt Schwitter’s “Merzbau”, is the son of Dada Baldoné, the Yoruba goddess of vegetables. A rural ─and strangely universal─ myth asserts that all the bejucos are only one –an interminable one. It is even said that there is a great circle. Others speak of many “bejucos” forming closed loops, huge plant rings where the logic of the infinite is multiplied. In any case, if you find an end, it means that a circle has been broken.

The persistent and whimsical strength that inhabits the bejuco lies hidden in the city. It animates some bodies, collapses others; it nourishes unexpected flows. The accumulations of wood around some trees in the city come to my mind. The wooden trunk, processed and “shrunken”, returns to its origin. Baldoné, who is bejuco sap and guizazo seeds, shakes the vegetable kingdom, rejects the carpenter’s epiphany: the technological grain and edge. Wood is wood. The movement of the stick in the city makes a loop. From tree to tree, it closes a circle. In the meantime, because that is what Dadá permits, the trunk is subject of labor, time unit, exchange value, subject to rule. Or at least it is ideally that.

There where things cannot be named as Home Legend Honey, Marazzi Imperial Slate, Three Rivers Gold Slate – where Home Depot has not yet arrived – materials are subjugated by the force of need, that latency as powerful as the bejuco, which can contain a coffee field or drown a river.

Ujamaa. Inercia de bejuco

Bejuco es hijo de Dadá. El bejuco, que tiene la misma inercia autista del merzbau de Schwitter es hijo de Dada baldoné la diosa yoruba de los vegetales. Se afirma en un mito rural y extrañamente universal que todos lo bejucos son uno solo, si encuentras un extremo significa que se ha roto un círculo. Leyenda derivadas aseguran que son muchos los bejucos que se cierran para forman enormes lazos, se aíslan del mundo al unir sus dos extremos, queda suspendida la naturaleza en su propia lógica.

La fuerza persistente y caprichosa que habita en el bejuco subyace en la ciudad. Anima cuerpos, colapsa otros, alimenta inesperados flujos. Pienso en las acumulaciones de maderas alrededor de algunos arboles en la ciudad. El palo, procesado y “consumido”, retorna a su origen. Baldoné, que es baba de bejuco y semilla de guizazo sacude el universo vegetal, rechaza la epifanía del carpintero: la cara y el canto tecnológicos. Madera es madera. Hace un lazo (loop) el movimiento del palo por la urbe. De árbol a árbol cierra un círculo. En el ínterin, porque eso es lo que permite Dadá, el madero es sujeto de labor, unidad de tiempo, valor de cambio, objeto de norma. O al menos idealmente.

Alli donde las cosas no pueden ser nombradas como Home Legend Honey, Marazzi Imperial Slate, Three Rivers Gold Slate, –donde aun no arriba Home Depot– las materias están subyugadas por la fuerza de la necesidad, esa latencia tan poderosa como el bejuco, que puede encerrar un campo de café o ahogar un rio.

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Nov 252012
 

The Nightclub invites you to Marakka 2012, the ninth of twelve events involving a network of artists, producers, and art students. Its aim is to create dialogue within a diversity of art practice through curated exhibitions showcased in a one—night venue.
macrovision

Magdiel Aspillaga and Ernesto Oroza | curators
December 7, 7-11 pm
Address: Buena Vista Building, 180 NE 39 St. Suite 204, Miami FL 33137

Since 1983, Waldo Fernandez has been assembling an archive of Cuban audiovisual memory. The collection–which functions commercially under the “Marakka 2000” brand–relies and exploits a loophole created by current Cuba-U.S. diplomatic relations, and is sustained by a precise and astute understanding of current procedures regarding the protection of copyright in the U.S.
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Jul 022011
 

ART@WORK PRESENTS ENEMIGO PROVISIONAL
Exhibition of Works by Ernesto Oroza
On View July 9 – August 31, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 16, 2011

Provisional Enemy
Shooting galleries in Cuba are spaces traversed by a nihilistic ray. These are sectors of the city–and of the material culture of the island–in which destruction occurs at an accelerated pace. They are the dispersed centers from where the void radiates.
 6 years ago I made a video titled Provisional Enemy. During the first seconds of the video, one reads: “On Tuesday, 26th of February, 2004, the person in charge of a shooting gallery agreed to sell me his work resources: a wire full of hanging objects that have been shot by dozens of Cubans, each day, with a pellet gun.”
A version of this video, photos from the archive “Enemigo Provisional”, and videos of Fidel Castro promoting household goods from Communist China in Cuban national television constitute the exhibition “Enemigo Provisional” at Artatwork.
Ernesto Oroza, 2011

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Apr 102011
 

TABLOID #8: This tabloid was produced by Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza for the exhibition DECOY. Farside Gallery 2010. Miami, FL.
Textile pattern by Tonel, mass produced as part of the cultural initiative TelArte, Havana 1987, altered by Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza, 2010.
Special thanks to Tonel for allowing us to use his work.
8 pages. Blue. Edition of 1000

From press release:
(Miami, FL) -For the exhibition Decoy, Ernesto Oroza and Gean Moreno are producing an abstracted interior in the guise of a reading room. In it, nothing is what it seems: a graphic/decorative figure is actually a schematized image pulled from a partially successful effort to join art and mass production (TelArte); the typology of a bench is folded into that of a table which, in turn, is folded into that a display structure; a set of funky tiles stand in as shorthand diagrams of procedures witnessed at the local salvage yard from where they were reclaimed; a tabloid (as a medium for information distribution) is inseparable from a wallpaper as a decorative structure, but the wallpaper presents its own non-decorative information; cushions sewn out of old T-shirts double as a starting archive of graphics that have taken root in our vernacular landscapes. Things acquire two and three identities and negotiate precarious balances between them. Somewhere in all this, one can begin to discern what is important to Oroza and Moreno: crisscrossing functional patterns in order to produce astute artifacts; testing the possibility of objects feed on tactical logics which, despite their proclivity for tending to the necessary with impressive economy, are all-too-often relegated to one kind of margin or another; formulating tentative theorems on what possibilities are still viable and vital for object production and urban experience.

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Mar 162011
 

Contemporary artist Ernesto Oroza re-presents “Archetype Vizcaya”
By Janna Lafferty, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens Examiner April 21st, 2011.
http://www.examiner.com

There is irony in Ernesto Oroza’s title, “Archetype Vizcaya.” He is less asking his audience to uncover something original and immutable then to point to the many folds of appropriation, redefinition, hybridity, and adaptation—processes of change—that first produced and continue to reproduce Vizcaya. For Oroza, Vizcaya provokes uneasy questions about the boundaries between production and reproduction, foreignness and indigineity, and the absoluteness of originality, authenticity, and meaning. Can reinvention, simulation, and syncretism be their own archetypes? Engaging these themes, Oroza puts the eclecticism of owner James Deering’s and designer Paul Chalfin’s architectural historicism into conversation with how he sees people variously using, thus re-defining, Vizcaya today. Among them, the museum’s methods of material conservation and Vizcaya’s popularity as a venue for quinceañeras.
Ernesto Oroza is a contemporary artist and conceptual designer from Cuba, whose work has enjoyed exhibition in galleries and museums across the globe, including France, Canada, New York, Spain, and the Netherlands. His work explores vernacular appropriations of material culture. As the artist currently commissioned for Vizcaya’s Contemporary Art Project, Oroza invites visitors to revizualize Vizcaya—to see elements that largely go unseen, emphasizing its layers of appropriation and hybridity. He accomplishes that in three ways.
First, Oroza has created a “map” in the form of a fold-out brochure, which visitors pick up in the piazza of the main house. Inside, Oroza has created a cartography of otherwise obscure visual elements, creating a beautiful legend of patterns that come from the floors, terrazzos and other decorative objects throughout the house. Each snippet of visual design on the map is numbered, correlating to one of 41 rooms, so that visitors become explorers of unique visual patterns. All of them instantiate the ways James Deering and Paul Chalfin appropriated the design and art elements of particular times and places. The map itself becomes its own decorative take-home piece.
Secondly, Oroza calls attention to the plexiglass coverings that have been placed over certain elements in the home as a preservation measure. Oroza sees these as curious and invasive elements that assert new meaning and definition into this place. They are the kind of implements that transform a private residence into an institutionalized public space. On their surface, Oroza imposes his own invasion—his own subjective layers, placing silhouettes of invasive plant species known to threaten Miami’s native flora. It seems an obvious provocation of questions. To what extent do we understand “Villa Vizcaya” and its architects as invaders, bringing outside elements and planting them in the Miami wilderness?
Finally, a second-story room plays a looped video collage, cataloguing amateur videos of people who’ve set their quinceañeras and weddings in Vizcaya’s elaborate gardens–gardens that themselves simulate the renaissance garden layouts of Italy and France. By the time we are watching these families borrow Vizcaya and make it their own, we have a sense of how the inventors of Vizcaya did the same. The meanings attached to Vizcaya become layered and fluid, a place of pronounced bricolage in city of tremendous flux.
Ernesto Oroza’s installation continues through May 29th, as part of Vizcaya’s ongoing Contemporary Arts Project (CAP). CAP was established as a way for the museum to connect with the national and local art community, extending invitations for notable artists to interpret Vizcaya’s space and resources. The museum invites two artists to present work in and about Vizcaya annually, which is exhibited over several months. Flamina Gennari-Santorni works with a select committee of national curators to elect the artists recruited for commission in a given year. The project helps to make Vizcaya a living, evolving social space. Oroza’s work especially demands self-reflexivity, not only emphasizing how the museum’s efforts to preserve a history itself creates and is created by its present, but that tensile relationships always mark that existence. To be living means always grappling–but, hopefully, not becoming complacent–with paradox.


Mapping Vizcaya
Written By Anne Tschida APRIL 2011
Biscayne Times

IN HIS LATEST WORK, CUBAN ARTIST ERNESTO OROZA NAVIGATES THE FAMED ESTATE’S HISTORY, BOTH REAL AND IMAGINED
Visiting Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a quintessentially Miami experience. The view of Biscayne Bay is spectacular. The gardens are lush and tropical. And the interior design of the faux Italianate villa is so over-the-top, so wannabe A-list as to be, well, so Miami.
The house was built by one of South Florida’s first transplanted tycoons, a product of the Gilded Age, James Deering. He wanted his mansion to look as though it had been around for centuries, like a real Old World landmark. So in 1916 he had his designer, Paul Chalfin, appropriate a mish-mash of styles from the 16th to 20th centuries for the new structure.
James Deering, a Gilded Age tycoon, found Miami to be the perfect place for his visions of faux grandeur. Photos courtesy of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
In 1953 this quixotic specimen of grandeur and excess — really, a Disneyfied version of a European castle, years before anyone had even heard of Uncle Walt — became a museum, run to this day by Miami-Dade County.
This history, simultaneously real and imagined, organic and borrowed, captivated Ernesto Oroza, a Cuban-born artist who spent a year walking the museum. The more he walked, the more he noticed the quirky secrets of the villa — on the floors, the walls, and even in the mix of visitors flowing in and out. Oroza eventually came up with Archetype Vizcaya, the latest in the Contemporary Arts Project series commissioned by the museum.
Oroza has literally mapped out the normally unseen highlights of Vizcaya in an artful brochure, which includes a legend with numbers and symbols. On a sunny, cool day, he points out some of his explorations.
When he first started making his rounds, he says, he noticed what was constantly under his feet: the floors made of marble, terrazzo, wood, tile, different styles all shoved together, sometimes in a single room. In particular it was the marble that really caught his eye. It is, he explains, the ultimately “contaminated” material. Over thousands of years, minerals and weather have infected the stone, imposing on it that unique quality of veins running through it. “To mineralogists, these shapes that we consider beautiful are, in fact, impurities that invaded the rock,” Oroza explains. “Any piece of marble in Vizcaya may be considered the diagram of a similar process of contamination that has occurred during the life of the building.”
And, he adds, marble shouts out wealth, another central theme of Vizcaya. From ancient times until today, marble columns, sculptures, and especially floors have signaled to visitors that money and power inhabit a space. And Vizcaya is covered in it.
Modeled on 17th- and 18th-century Venetian floors, the marble layerings in the villa were imported, likely from North Africa, another way for moguls like Deering to flag wealth “and worldly experience,” says Oroza. “It was from the beginning meant to be a showroom.”
Vizcaya was designed in the era of Cecil B. DeMille, and any resemblance to a larger- than-life movie set is intentional.
As you move from room to room with Oroza’s map, you see the beginnings of Miami as a place where outside influences and manufactured identities dominate. We reinvent ourselves here all the time. “History” is malleable. Pasts are remade or just erased.
Take the Breakfast Room. It is decorated in a pseudo-Chinese style, popular in the late 19th Century, with lacquered furniture (actually crafted by a Cuban team) and a painting of a South China Sea fishing scene (actually painted in the late 1600s by a Frenchman). As the new deputy director for collections and curatorial affairs, Flaminia Gennari-Santori, who is overseeing the art series, quips: “Look closely. One of the fishermen was really born in 1916!” The original painting was expanded to fit the wall, which meant adding figures and subjects. Talk about imposition and contamination.
Other stops on the map reveal subtle points that would go unrecognized without some help from Oroza, such as details in the 550-year-old rug depicting the “Hand of Fatima.” Oroza’s own interventions are few, and are pasted on Plexiglas barriers in certain rooms: silhouettes depicting invasive plants that have been imported to Miami through the years, endangering the native vegetation. The Plexiglas itself is its own, strange intervention, says Oroza — something that jumped out at him, like the floors. When the villa became a museum, these Plexi plates were installed to keep visitors from harming valuable objects or venturing too deep into the rooms. But as Oroza points out, they were haphazardly placed, in some cases protecting relatively unimportant works, while other more precious pieces stood completely exposed.
A third segment of this unconventional art exhibit involves Oroza’s “mapping” of the people who have passed through Vizcaya over the past half-century. Using the Web, he gathered amateur videos of quinceañeras, weddings, parties, and star-studded concerts, which unspool in a continual loop (Oroza adds to it when he can) in the South Gallery. This study of human interventions at the site leads him to understand something else about Miami. As a relatively recent arrival from Cuba, Oroza says he had never visited the museum. But once he started hanging out, he saw how central the place has become to the local Cuban community, another important layer in Miami’s multilayered history.
From Deering to Chalfin, from the property’s African and Japanese plant species to exile families celebrating coming-of-age rituals — and even the hands behind this exhibit (the Cuban Oroza and Italian Gennari-Santori) — Vizcaya reflects so many of the influences that make up the broader cultural terrain here.
Oroza has devised a clever way to uncover all this. As Gennari-Santori writes in the exhibit’s introduction: “The map directs us to look at the surfaces beneath our feet and, in doing so, breaks our normative viewing habits and frees us to participate in an intensive treasure hunt for curious artifacts. Oroza’s map is an object in its own right that can be taken home and enjoyed as a piece of art or wallpaper, or in any way one wishes.”
Archetype Vizcaya is a highly conceptual work from a very intellectual mind, but it can be engaged on almost any level. If you’ve never been to this amazing museum, here’s your excuse; follow the map through the house, or just take the opportunity to wander and stumble on some interesting tidbits.
Oroza gathered amateur videos of parties, weddings, and galas held at Vizcaya, which unspool in a continuous loop.
Circling back to the idea that Vizcaya was, from its inception, supposed to be a showroom, Oroza points out it was designed in the era of Cecil B. DeMille, and any resemblance to a larger-than-life movie set is intentional. “It was made to be photographed,” he says. “It was made to be catalogued.” And of course it was made to be explored.


A progress report on the ongoing renovations at Miami’s Vizcaya Museum…
By Beth Dunlop Special to The Miami Herald, 2011/04/10

Vizcaya’s entrance loggia with its interesting floor is on the explorer’s map of the estate that Ernesto Oroza devised as part of his art project, ‘Archetype Vizcaya.’
Ernesto Oroza’s new contemporary art project, Archetype Vizcaya, is a puzzle and a treasure hunt. It’s part of a series that offers artists the opportunity to look at Vizcaya through a unique contemporary lens, a chance to interpret, intervene or even invent: temporary new work — some of it extremely conceptual — layered over aging beauty. As such, Oroza’s work offers an enlightening new way to look at and learn more of an extraordinary and complex house built by James Deering, the heir to a giant farm-equipment fortune, and completed in 1916. Archetype Vizcaya offers a perfect metaphor for the moment, for place and time.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is one of this country’s most important historic houses — for its architecture, decorative arts and gardens — and among the most beautiful. It is also one of the most complex. Almost every element bears scrutiny and understanding, and only now are its curators and caretakers beginning to unlock its many secrets.
In many ways, Vizcaya is at a turning point. Just five years shy of its centenary and almost six decades after it be came a key part of Miami-Dade County’s cultural holdings, it is getting a fastidious, piece-by-piece examination and — where needed — restoration. The magnificent Sutri Fountain at the far edge of the garden and long called the Rose Garden Fountain, has just been restored (by Conservation Solutions, Inc.), along with the important, and delightful, garden sculpture surrounding it.
The café and gift shop, much damaged in 2005 during Hurricane Wilma, are renovated (by R.J. Heisenbottle Architects) and will reopen in June. The David A. Klein Orchidarium just outside the café and grotto swimming pool is being returned, by the landscape architects Falcon + Bueno, to a condition more like its original so that a small lawn fringed with ornamental plants yields to a hammock. Two of the quaint Vizcaya Farm Village buildings across the street have been restored, also by Heisenbottle. A cultural landscape report (by Heritage Landscapes) that documents the historic horticulture of the gardens has just been completed.
Within weeks, possibly sooner, design work will begin to replace the heavy-handed black-metal glass space frame roof that covers the courtyard, a legacy from the 1980s. The archives have been organized — for the first time ever — and, even more important, each painting, sculpture, rug, chandelier, sconce, fitting and piece of furniture is being studied and catalogued. Last fall, Vizcaya introduced an audio tour in English and Spanish, which enables visitors to wander knowledgeably at their own pace.
And, from now through May 29, there is Ernest Oroza’s magical map to follow. The map comes in the form of a fold-out brochure. Open it, and there are numbered icons drawn from patterns in the exquisite, intricate floors. The icons in turn relate to 41 different rooms in Vizcaya and, sometimes, to particular objects, forcing the visitor to seek out patterns in the floor and hidden images and iconography in the furniture and architecture. In this engaging and enigmatic work, past is prologue, and the present is multi-layered.
The map is just part of the project. Oroza also has added a layer to certain rooms, Plexiglas panels with designs that pose the question of what’s authentic and what’s not — appropriate in a house in which most of the furnishings and fittings were antiques bought in Europe and shipped to what was, in 1916, still an outpost of civilization in the New World, with some pieces reassembled for uses far from their original intent. Oroza wants us to think about these issues, then take our observations even further.
His project ends in a makeshift gallery where a continuous video loop shows some of the ways that Vizcaya is used now — most particularly in footage of girls bedecked in gowns posing for their Quinceañera photos. All of this is heady and intelligent and, at the same time, capricious and full of joy.
Oroza’s fascination with the balance between a venerable historic house and its perception (and use) by the larger public points up some universal truths, most fundamentally that humans are drawn to beautiful places and spaces and when something like Vizcaya can be theirs — even for a moment — they make it so. A century, a culture and much more separate James Deering from the 15-year-olds in the Quinceañera photos, and yet both have borrowed from the grandeur of another era to make it their own. In Deering’s case, the borrowing was for a lifetime; today, often, it is for the hour spent shooting a portrait.
Oroza wants us to think about this. Follow his map, follow his path, watch the videos, and you will.
The Contemporary Art Project is funded by foundation grants and private donations. Artists are selected by a prestigious jury, most of them curators from widely regarded museums across the country, in conjunction with Vizcaya’s deputy director for collections and curatorial affairs, Flaminia Gennari-Santori.
“We’re not a contemporary art institution,” she says, “but we see this as a way to reinforce ourselves. The context here is so strong that it can create a way of re-thinking.”
Gennari-Santori. and Vizcaya’s director, Joel Hoffman, have Ph.D.s in art history and are dedicated stewards of the rich treasure that is Vizcaya, and they also fully understand that dichotomy between the once-private, grand mansion of one of this country’s richest men and the public museum that it is today, preserving the all-important work of its architect, F. Burrall Hoffman; designer, Paul Chalfin, and landscape architect, Diego Suarez, and paying homage to their collective brilliance. Even more, they are public stewards of a building and collection of enormous scholarly and aesthetic importance — and learning . Theirs is a rigorous and daunting task.
The magnificent Sutri Fountain, for example, had been installed incorrectly in 1920 (Gennari- Santori. suspects that the workmen confused inches and centimeters) and thus always leaked. Restoration involved not just cleaning it but also removing and re-setting it to fit. The fountain, which Deering and Chalfin bought from an antiques dealer in Rome in 1916, had been in the piazza in the small Italian town of Sutri, just north of Rome, and was most likely was designed in 1722 by Felippo Barigioni whose other work included the fountain in the Piazza de Pantheon in Rome.
This detailed level of scholarship importantly provides a basis for understanding not just a specific piece but also the whole intricate interrelationship between house and garden, furniture and art. Moreover, it provides a base line for restoration work and for decision-making — for example, in the refurbishment of the storm-damaged café.
In the café and gift shop, which have been operating from a tent, diners and visitors will get a glimpse (woven wicker, dark wood, leaded glass) of what would have been Deering’s gaming and smoking rooms and can see some details of the original (sconces, rails, marble), but the rooms are more or less a necessary adaptation to a new use. Peer through the windows to see the grotto pool (look, but don’t swim) which has seamlessly gotten new flood-control engineering.
Time and wear, weather and climate all play into the decision making about Vizcaya’s future — that delicate balancing act. After Hurricane Wilma’s damage, Hoffman convened a charrette to look at alternatives to the almost 30-year-old glass canopy over the Vizcaya courtyard. Several options were explored — among them a glass wall dividing the courtyard from the house, a lower glass “ceiling,” the zoning of the house to air-condition rooms — under the theory that technology has advanced enough to allow for a more minimal and elegant solution than the ugly black space frame. Ultimately, the simplest of alternatives emerged: replacing the roof with a lighter, closer-to-invisible glass roof. It’s a much-needed step, and a critical one, paying homage to the real architecture once again.
In the meantime, there’s an entirely absorbing and entertaining way to look at Vizcaya — through an artist’s eyes and through your own. It’s a testament to the power of Deering and the men who created this remarkable house and gardens that it is all, always, a discovery, be it new scholarship, restoration revelations or simply the product of close examination. What’s clear is that going forward into its second century, Vizcaya is in good hands — cherished and honored and celebrated. And cared for and conserved. What more can we ask?


Villa Vizcaya transfigurada: entre la quimera y el diseño
Janet Batet. El nuevo Herald, Publicado el domingo 17 Abril del 2011

Como parte del programa Contemporary Art Project (CAP), el Museo de Vizcaya presenta hasta el 29 de mayo, Archetype Vizcaya, proyecto del artista cubanoamericano Ernesto Oroza.
En Archetye Vizcaya Oroza creó una cartografía que transfigura la mirada del visitante proponiendo una nueva lectura de la famosa villa italiana en Miami.
Para el proyecto, Oroza escogió el plexiglás como elemento central por dos motivos esenciales. La primera, histórica: cuando la villa devino museo en 1953, las láminas de plexiglás funcionaban como frontera limítrofe que delimitaba el espacio y los objetos exhibidos de los visitantes; segundo, por ser el plexiglás el material más contemporáneo empleado en la construcción del edificio.
Las láminas de plexiglás devienen estructura arquitectónica provisional, pobladas con la silueta de plantas consideradas hoy “invasivas” que, posiblemente, hayan sido introducidas en la Florida por James Deering, dueño de Villa Vizcaya, y que actúan a un tiempo como elemento decorativo e interferencia en el proceso perceptivo.
Construida en el mismo momento en que se elevaban los rascacielos de Nueva York y Chicago, Villa Vizcaya contrasta como poder simbólico escapista que mira a Europa y al pasado. En este sentido, Oroza sustantiva el extendido uso del lugar como mero decorado y quimera para ocasiones como es el caso de las populares fiestas de quinceañeras.


Ernesto Oroza. Viscaya Museum and Garden, Miami
by Janet Batet. Arte al dia International
As part of the Contemporary Art Project (CAP) program, the Vizcaya Museum presented “Archetype Vizcaya”, an exhibition by Cuban-American artist Ernesto Oroza.
Ernesto Oroza is well known for his incisive commentaries on contemporary urban culture. With a background that includes deep conceptual roots and a solid training in design, Oroza appropriates a space or an aspect of the urban environment and, through a deconstructive process, he returns the object he has manipulated entirely transfigured.
In the specific case of “Archetype Vizcaya”, the artist explores the shift in meaning which has its point of departure in the de-contextualization and redirecting of the gaze. To this end, Oroza created a “provisional space” delimited by Plexiglas panels that function as a “parallel” structure within the museum’s architecture. There are two essential reasons behind the choice of Plexiglas as a central element in his work. The first is of a historical nature: when the villa became a museum in 1953, the Plexiglas panels functioned as a frontier that kept the space and the objects exhibited separated from visitors.
The second reason, associated to the synthetic nature of the material, imposes an essential contrast with the rest of the build- ing which stands out for its escapist vocation. Built at the begin- ning of the 20th century − coinciding with the start of construction of the New York and Chicago skyscrapers − the marvelous villa stands out for its evasive character, revealed by its appropriation of 16th century Italian Renaissance architecture at a time when architecture and design opted for technological advancement and the incorporation of ultra-modern materials. Oroza sets his use of Plexiglas against the use of marble as an invasive and contaminating element. As the artist rightly points out, marble is “the result of a process of contamination of limestone rock by a flow of magma.” Based on this concept, Oroza devotes himself to a compilation of all the invasive processes the villa has been subject to throughout its one hundred years of existence. Within this process, he highlights the inventory of “invasive” plants from the most remote confines that populate the villa and emphasize the notion of escape that distinguishes the venue. From this detailed classification, Oroza utilizes the formal element. The leaves, reduced to silhouettes, invade the crystalline surfaces of the Plexiglass, acting at the same time as decorative element and interference in the perceptive process. “Archtype Vizcaya” is accompanied by a map in which Oroza reveals historical details of interest, articulating the building’s dual function. Since while the complex was conceived as a summer house commissioned by James Deering, its designer, Paul Chalfin, cleverly used it for his own self-promotion, transforming the mansion into his own personal
portfolio.
To illustrate this “parasitic” use of the building, Oroza draws attention towards the extended utilization of the place as a mere décor and chimera for the popular fifteenth birthday celebrations, reducing the complex − in the same way as Chalfin did − to a décor for personal purposes. To emphasize this effect, the map-catalogue created by Oroza fulfills a double function. On the one hand, the fundamental one of guiding the visitor in this unusual tour of the Vizcaya Museum; on the other hand, there is the mere decorative character. The symbols used at the back − as an indication of the language employed − become a mere ornamental pattern, in such a way the catalogue displayed on the wall may be used as a decorative wallpaper.

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Mar 112011
 

“Marble is a material that results from the encounter of powerful natural forces; colored veins are the result of a fluid of magma that penetrates the limestone rock. To mineralogists, these shapes that we consider beautiful are, in fact, impurities that invaded the rock. Any piece of marble in Vizcaya may be considered the diagram of a similar process of contamination that has occurred during the life of the building.
Similarly, for almost a century, Vizcaya has been exposed to the pressures of individual, social, economic and institutional forces, in an ongoing process of contamination. One of the most powerful and pervasive of these forces was Paul Chalfin (1873-1959), the artistic director who created Vizcaya’s fantastic interiors twisting and playing with the canon of European decoration. Other major transformations occurred after 1953, when Vizcaya became a museum. For example, to protect artifacts from visitors panels of plexiglass were placed over many surfaces. It was as if a transparent plastic vein had invaded the stone body of the building. Vizcaya itself can be seen as an intrusion into the Miami tropical landscape of 100 years ago.”
Ernesto Oroza, 2011

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Mar 102011
 

Notas sobre Espacio Provisional *

Espacio provisional en Vizcaya asume como su estructura física y espacial las láminas de plexiglás que fueron colocadas en 1953 cuando la casa devino museo para proteger el lugar y los objetos de los visitantes.  En mi proyecto considero estos plexiglases una superficie expositiva paralela al museo. El  plexiglás es, posiblemente, el material más contemporáneo con el edificio, fue inventado en la misma década que se construyó Vizcaya, específicamente en 1928.
Para esta primera exposición decidí organizar sobre estos plexiglás una muestra que cumpliera tres funciones:

1- Indicar cual es la superficie de Espacio Provisional en Vizcaya, esta función articula y describe estas láminas como una estructura arquitectónica expositiva. Esta función puede ser considerada arquitectural.

2- Documentar practicas invasivas y contaminantes. En el texto del mapa hablo del mármol como el resultado de un proceso de contaminación de una roca caliza  por un fluido de magma y lo propongo como un diagrama del Vizcaya, el cual ha albergado procesos similares de contaminación y apropiación durante sus 100 años.
Seleccioné un conjunto de plantas invasivas listadas en el website del condado Miami-Dade. Todas provienen de lugares remotos como Asia, África, Brasil, Mediterráneo.
Deering, dueño del palacio Vizcaya, pudo haber sido el precursor de la entrada de estas plantas decorativas e invasivas en la Florida. Con estas siluetas blancas de plantas invasivas sobre los plexiglases se produce un proceso de omisión de la textura barroca del Museo. En este sentido, la metáfora del mármol va mas lejos, al homologar las plantas invasivas que atraviesan las superficies de Vizcaya con las vetas de magma  que atraviesan la roca caliza.

3- La tercera función es decorativa. Se activa con la colocación del patrón de plantas invasivas por cada área del museo al integrarse a la textura decorativa de Vizcaya. Es decir, el proceso de documentación sistemático termina por generar un patrón que puede eventualmente cumplir una función decorativa. La repetición documenta-representa el carácter expansivo de estas plantas. De alguna forma la escala que usé hace participar esta muestra como una intervención de diseño interior. Ambas cosas, el “documental decorativo” y el interior como una estructura para relacionar elementos de una investigación son procesos que empecé en Cuba con la muestra personal que hice en la Fundacion Ludwig, 2005.

*Espacio provisional es un proyecto expositivo fundado en Cuba para realizar exposiciones independientes, algunas de las cuales solo duraban un día. He adpatado el proyecto a EUA  participando en Milwaukee Internacional Art Fair en el (2008), Dark Fair, Swiss Institute NY (2008), “No Soul For Sale – Festival of Independents,” Tate Modern, London (The Suburban/Milwaukee International) (2010) entre otros.

Una segunda exhibición para Espacio Provisional en Vizcaya fue planificada pero no realizada.

Notas sobre el Mapa

El mapa cuenta con una tirada de 5000 ejemplares por cada idioma english/spanish.
Durante mis primeras visitas al museo noté que Chalfin, el diseñador, había hecho un uso astuto de su proyecto en Vizcaya, la lejanía geográfica del lugar en ese momento y un uso eficaz de la prensa especializad (Harper Bazar, etc) y de fotógrafos le permitió promover su trabajo de diseñador de interiores en busca de nuevos clientes. Es decir, Chalfin creó un set fotográfico, un espacio altamente fotogénico, que no podía ser puesto en cuestión sin una visita al lugar, algo difícil pues estaba muy lejos de las grandes ciudades. El edificio tiene esa doble agenda, por un lado es el hogar veraniego de Deering, el cliente, por otro es el portafolio personal mas exuberante para un diseñador de la época.
El mapa que hice favorece esa inercia de mostrar, exponer, articulándose como un display minucioso de los pisos de Vizcaya mientras que deja ver secretos, objetos y obras de la colección e inventos de la época (el Vizcaya se construía al mismo tiempo que crecían los rascacielos de NY y Chicago y es producto de la presencia paradójica de alta tecnología y de un afán historicista coartado por el cine épico de Hollywood y las grandes superproducciones de D.W Griffith)
Flaminia me comentó, al inicio del proyecto, que las quinceañeras como parte de la negociación de la renta para las fotos reciben un ticket para regresar al lugar a manera de visita guiada y jamás ninguna regresó con ese fin. De alguna forma este comportamiento extiende el uso astuto y pragmático de Chalfin el diseñador de interiores. La familia considera Vizcaya una imagen de fondo, una superficie optimizada simbólicamente y así puede verse en lo videos en los cuales se muestra un reconocimiento formal de escaleras, paseos, esculturas que valorizan sus escenas pero no parece producirse una asimilación vivencial del lugar.
Decidí entonces añadir un elemento en el reverso que pudiera ser tomado para producir estos “fondos” en los hogares de Miami. El mapa puede ser tomado en el lugar y configurar decoraciones, doilies, etc. Con el mapa recupero el proceso Documental decorativo: el reverso, además de documentar un piso ficcionado del Vizcaya  puede ser empleado como un patrón decorativo.

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Mar 102011
 

Prohibited Plant Species List

The following is a list of plant species prohibited in Miami-Dade County.

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Mar 102011
 

Archetype: the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based.

As Ernesto Oroza began his work on Archetype Vizcaya, we invited him to look closely at the estate. For several months, he examined the patterns of materials and the movements of crowds and individuals, including party planners and curators; he opened every closet and catalogued visible and invisible surfaces; he explored the archives and original designs for the property; he moved across the line that separates the public from what is behind the stanchions and the plexiglass; and he studied Vizcaya’s presence on the Web.

For several years, Oroza has been interested in utilitarian objects and vernacular practices of appropriation, in which things are taken from their original context and given new purpose and meaning. As an extravagant Italianate vacation home designed for millionaire James Deering by artist and interior decorator Paul Chalfin, Vizcaya would not appear at first sight to be remotely touched by issues of necessity or by a vernacular approach to architecture and design. In fact, we invited Oroza because we were confident that his work in entirely different contexts would enable him to see Vizcaya with fresh eyes, helping us to understand how the estate is currently “used” by its visitors and to envision alternate ways of “using” it.

Oroza developed tools that engage us in looking at this National Historic Landmark with an active, playful and ironic perspective. At the same time, in exploring the dynamics of cultural appropriation, Oroza raises issues at the core of Vizcaya’s history and cultural significance. So too does he present Vizcaya as an ongoing layering of appropriations, histories and meanings, still vibrant and more unpredictable than ever.

A key component of Oroza’s project is a printed “map” of the Main House. This map is far from a literal floor plan, but rather an abstract guide that invites visitors to discover objects and ideas generally unseen or overlooked. The extravagant floors assembled by Chalfin serve as the organizing principle. On one part of the map, the floors are catalogued as a means to identify the different spaces at Vizcaya; and the floors are associated by numbers to images of objects in the rooms that they adorn. The map directs us to look at the surfaces beneath our feet and, in doing so, breaks our normative viewing habits and frees us to participate in an intensive treasure hunt for curious artifacts. Oroza’s map is an object in its own right that can be taken home and enjoyed as a piece of art or wallpaper, or in any way one wishes.

Visitors using the map to explore Vizcaya will find traces of Oroza’s intervention and interpretation in unexpected places around the house. On the plexiglass, for example, Oroza has inserted silhouettes of the invasive plants that endanger Miami’s local vegetation. By introducing “alien” things into the fabric of Vizcaya, Oroza challenges us to question what is original or authentic on an estate in which the buildings, landscape, furniture and art objects were all imported or invented.

Ernesto Oroza also went outside of the estate’s walls to understand Vizcaya, scouring the Web for information. From this research, he assembled the third component of his project, a catalogue of amateur videos of quinceañeras, weddings and other parties at the estate. To immerse oneself in this kaleidoscope of moving images is perhaps the best, and certainly the most entertaining, way to understand how Vizcaya is “used” by its visitors.

With Archetype Vizcaya, Oroza explores the border between the institution and its appropriation by the public.
He creates new tools to experience Vizcaya’s spaces and to discover the unseen. Oroza causes us to contemplate what is “native” and what is “alien” in a museum context or in a social environment. And, he asks us to consider the relevance of a historic house filled with Italian decorative arts in modern Miami. But, most important, he shows us that if Deering and Chalfin could appropriate and reinvent Italian decorative arts and design almost one hundred years ago, we should feel free to appropriate and reinvent their work today.

Over the last few months, we engaged in ongoing conversation with Ernesto Oroza about Vizcaya and its multiple histories. The inside of this brochure includes excerpts of this conversation, which was central to the development of his project.

Flaminia Gennari-Santori, Deputy Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs

Courtesy, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens © Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida. All rights reserved.

Courtesy, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
© Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida. All rights reserved.

A conversation between Ernesto Oroza and Flaminia Gennari-Santori, Vizcaya’s Deputy Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs.

EO: Do you think Paul Chalfin applied architectural historicism at Vizcaya because it was a culturally accepted “shortcut” or for other reasons?

FGS: Vizcaya is a product of its time, and architectural historicism is a crucial component of its aesthetic. But, at Vizcaya, historicism was used as the language for the fictional narrative of a country house that had been occupied for centuries and had graciously accommodated changes in taste and style. In fact, it was built over the span of just a few years as the theatrical set for the cultural projections of its owner, James Deering, and even more, of its designer, Paul Chalfin. One could look at the entire estate as the ideal portrait of a worldy, sophisticated gentleman, with the taste of a connoisseur and the means to surround himself with the ultimate technology. And yet, here and there, like in the sets of a period film, one finds the props, the joints of old and new, of “authentic” and “imitated.” Still, I believe that Chalfin had a further ambition: to reproduce the layering of styles and historical periods that he had learned to appreciate in Italy. The result was, of course, pure American eclecticism.

EO: What do you think are some of the most interesting objects for someone trying to understand Vizcaya?

FGS: One of them is certainly the statue of Mezzogiorno (“Midday”), which greets visitors on the driveway when they enter the property. This idealized representation of a Caribbean native —dressed as a classical soldier and symbolizing the passage of time—originally adorned a garden in the Veneto. At Vizcaya, it was placed in its preeminent position as an evocation of a mythical Caribbean and, thus, for me, Mezzogiorno synthesizes Vizcaya’s multiple layers: 18th-century Venice and the early 20th-century culture of appropriation and reinvention that created the estate. In the house, one of my favorite objects is the system of shelves on the east wall of the Living Room. It was created in central Italy in the mid 16th-century as a church screen. Paul Chalfin cut it into pieces, added some surreal neoclassical urns and transformed it into a display case for “collectibles,”an indispensable element in the house of a gentleman. Yet, the “collectibles” are the least interesting things: partly hidden by the structure, one can find beautiful, tragic wood carvings of men fighting with demons, of medallions with monks’ profiles, of human figures with clawed hands. A house designed for relaxing and entertaining hides these daunting and moving figures.

EO: I find the plexiglass panels in the house quite interesting, because I see them as a vernacular intrusion into the history of Vizcaya. I think that the plexiglass can be interpreted as the validation of certain surfaces, a curatorial decision imposed by preservation specialists to protect things of historic value from museum visitors. How do you see them?

FGS: I think that the placement of the plexiglass at Vizcaya is one of the most curious sub-narratives of the house. Why we find a panel in front of a plain wall, and not protecting the 18thcentury lacquer door next to it, is a m ystery that entirely defies me. The plexiglass is another layer in Vizcaya’s history that you are bringing to our attention by including it in your project. Like the canopy, the plexiglass marks the conversion from private home to public museum, a transition that understandably generated anxieties of control and institutional identity.

EO: The eccentric character of a Baroque retreat on Biscayne Bay must have seemed far more powerful without the Courtyard glass canopy, when the house was exposed to natural forces such as wind, rain, hurricanes, saltwater and mosquitos. Do you think that the museum’s collection and activities could be sustained if the canopy were removed?

FGS: The canopy is the most aesthetically intrusive consequence of the transformation of Vizcaya into a public museum. The Main House was conceived as a pavilion immersed in nature, where the sky and the sea could be seen from every room. The most interesting challenge of a house museum is that it forces you to balance on the thin and slippery ridge between the public and private realms. The canopy exemplifies this challenge. We are about to commission a new one and our goal is to make it as light and invisible as possible, while protecting the collection and keeping the heart of Vizcaya comfortable for the public even during the summer. I agree with you that the glass canopy compromises Vizcaya’s magic, yet in order to stay alive, places need to subtly adapt to time.

FGS: And now I’d like to ask you a question. With Archetype Vizcaya, you unveil a new geography of the place, which reflects both your own approach as an artist and designer and the very thorough research you conducted on the estate and its history. How did your desire to “re-map” what is already historic come about, and what do you hope visitors will take away from the tools you have provided?

EO: My answer would explain not only this project, but my practice in general. In my work, I have developed an analytical structure, a diagram that is almost immutable, with spaces or variables that are filled in by the context I study. It’s a system of ideas and convictions structured by my inquiries into material culture, need, design, languages, and radical and experimental architecture. Yet, the content that fills the equation—the context—ends up affecting the work. This is what happened with Archetype Vizcaya: my model came face-to-face with the structure and the interrelationships of Paul Chalfin’s interior design. I found some recurrent behaviors here and thought that it might be important to reiterate them. The patterns of appropriation and permutation have been so present at Vizcaya from its very origin, that I believe they’re inevitable. Vizcaya has been dissolving into Miami since its construction, due to the climate, changes in function and its relationship to the community. To me, it is interesting to sit back and watch this process. It’s like adding pigment to a river and watching it dissolve into the sea. The map, the provisional gallery on the plexiglass and the video archive are all moving in this direction, and are abstract tools that can be employed anywhere; but, at Vizcaya, they can provoke very specific results.

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Feb 112011
 

Curated by Nicholas Frank
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts
Curator’s Statement
Download Tabloid printed for the exhibition

Ernesto Oroza’s “Architecture of Necessity” chronicles the inventive solutions that arise under conditions of severe economic limitations, such as those in his native Havana. The island nation of Cuba has been embargoed and isolated for decades and restricted by an authoritarian government, and deprivation is the norm. Though private production is illegal under the current system, people invent the things they need, and make changes to their built environment as necessary.
Oroza’s work (in essays, photographs, collected and reconstructed objects) documents the range of inventive solutions borne out of these conditions, while charting a moral course for social discourse and development.
The exhibition at Inova will feature a combination of interior design and architectural elements, along with documentary photographs of architectural modifications in Havana, and video detailing various household inventions. Inova will publish an edition of Oroza’s Tabloids, an ongoing project that conveys ideas and visual information in an inexpensive and widely distributable format. The Inova tabloid will act as the exhibition publication for the concurrent shows (Matthew Girson and Jeanne Dunning), and contain information specific to the Milwaukee community. We are grateful for the support of the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts and Aprenda Invertir (Miami).
This is Oroza’s first exhibition in the Midwest.


“The need for raw materials converts these places into very selective “black hollows”. All the plastic objects from the surroundings were absorbed by the mechanism, a kind of industrial cannibalism. Hordes of plastic prospectors were collecting containers from everywhere to feed the monster that was expelling little heads of Batman at the other side. Sometimes families were living with the machines inside the house, not in a patio or a cellar. A room during the day can transform itself into a plant to produce electric switches, pipes or hoses. Photos of children on the wall of the house and a small bedside table now used as a toolbox reappraised the past of the space.”
From: Menu, BaptisteRéactions en chaine Interview with Ernesto Oroza. Azimuts 35, Cite du design, 2010.


RÉACTIONS EN CHAÎNE

Interview with Ernesto Oroza
By Baptiste Menu

(The english version of this interview was published in the special tabloid printed for the exhibition Ernesto Oroza. Architecture of Necesitty, INOVA, 2011) (French version)

Baptiste Menu What you call “technological disobedience” is questioning the life cycle of western products, by multiplying the industrial objects’ length of use up to the limit of their possibilities of use. This system is now possible thanks to the reconsideration of the industrial object under the hand-craft aspect.
Which forms of organization does this creative re-conquest of industrial objects take?

Ernesto Oroza I think the fact of reconsidering the industrial product from a hand-craft perspective encourages shrewd practices in contrast with the artificial voracity and activates more human temporary relations, like the repair, can authorize questions about the obtuse nature of the contemporaneous industrial object. When you open an object to fix it, there is a crack in the authority system which is set up. We see the internal organs of an authoritarian logic that imposes itself not only through a product but also through a system sequence : the objects integrate authoritarian families, share an infinite succession of reinforced generations. And this domination even precedes the arrival of the object at home; indeed its first domination takes place in the mass media. That’s why I used, in the ‹Rikimbili. Une étude sur la désobéissance technologique en quelques formes de réinvention› book, the image of Fidel Castro on the national television selling to Cubans a Chinese product used to boil water. The image couldn’t be much redundant and excessive in terms of imposition. When I talk about authority, I want to link it with all the logics these products induct, starting with the imposition of their scheduled life cycle.
Concerning your question about the forms of organization that qualify and diversify the hand-craft revision of the industrial in Cuba, I would comment one of them, which is fundamental to me: the accumulation. It seems to be a passive act, not creative, but it is literally the organizational starting point of the phenomenon. I grew up in a family where we kept everything and everything seems to have a potential. Each object accumulated by my mother can perfectly be useful in a situation of future shortage. The accumulation is in fact an emergency exit from an inopportune crisis, but it becomes a habit, because of distrust. The accumulation is regularly the first gesture in the production process and it has an absolute manual nature. That is to say that from the accumulation yet, you begin from a hand-craft point of view to be disrespectful to the life cycle integrated in the western industrial object. You infinitely postpone the moment of its waste by separating it from its assigned route. I think that the fact of accumulating things inserts an alteration, a notion of time, in the Cuban vernacular practices and this new own time organize them, give them the form of a parallel and productive phenomenon. I also said that the fact of accumulating is not only the suspicious fact of piling up objects. Well, when you do that you accumulate ideas of use, constructive solutions, technical systems and archetypes in general that can flourish when the situation gets worse.

Illustrations from: Con nuestros propios esfuerzos. Editorial Verde Olivo, 1992

Illustrations from: Con nuestros propios esfuerzos. Editorial Verde Olivo, 1992

BM I have the sensation that an important concept runs through your work, the material-object notion. Can you develop this idea, please?

EO I’ ve been writing recently on the issue related the re-use of generic objects as buckets or milk crates in precarious contexts like in Little Haiti, in Miami. Even if the situations are different, Cuba is characterized by a profound shortage and the US by an excess of products. In each case, there are social groups living in bad conditions. I met in each territory similar patterns of behaviour. It seems that people in these circumstances generally perceive their material universe in a discriminative way. They are just interested in the physical qualities of the objects that surround them. It’ s a diary process, an appropriate activity. When we look at the object from the exterior, we can understand it as the potential and real re-conversion in raw material of all the elements that integrate the environment of the individual. This process begins by erasing the objects’ and parts’ meanings present in our culture. That is to say that an individual recognizes in a bucket a kind of cultural profundity. But, when he is in a situation of need, he will just perceive it like an abstract compilation of materials with forms, edges, weight, structures. We can make a very familiar parallel with the relation of use we have with the natural world. It is normal to take a stone to hold a door or a branch to reach a fruit. The rhetorical or historical value of the stone won’ t be important when you need to let the door open, only its weight. A bucket full of water can only be used to block a door. The relation we maintain with things in both universes (natural and generic) comes from a unique condition: the two objects, the branch and the milk crate, suffer from identity. They seem to be foreign to the system of sense production, foreign to the culture. A plastic box to distribute milk is an abstract and autistic object, dumped through a circle of very specific requirements and that’ s why an object is accessible thanks to its excessive production. I wonder if the description fits with the branch or the stones’ one. For sure, the box has a social function, but its conception has been so much optimized that the human aspect has just become a value, a dimensional data within the plastic surface of the object, as it is for the weight of a litre of milk or the storage capacity of the truck that supplies it. The milk crate is a field sown with physical qualities, potentialities that will become more visible as far as we will have more needs, and it is also a field empty of sense. Its figure is so quiet in terms of image that its indifference and the indifference of the system producing it overwhelm us. Everyday the box travels full and comes back empty. It takes parts in a loop that could remain active for the eternity. If a box goes out the loop, lost or damaged, another one will replace it. If the world suddenly halts, the circle made by the boxes of milk in the city would continue to flow. We would be frightened by its social indifference, its pensiveness, the silence its centripetal move produces. But, around this circle or in a tangential scheme, there are circles of human activities eroding the perfection of the rational system where the milk crate subsists, splintering. The surrounding zones of the markets where milk is distributed are full of milk crates used like urban seats or used for other activities like car washing or water selling. In order to explain you how this occurs in Havana, we can use the example of the fan repaired thanks to a telephone. A quick glance to the object will carry us away from the art field of senses, from the readymade and from the index of associative resources of the Dada where the humour articulated with the image takes our look and our understandings. Nevertheless, for the repairman, the telephone is the unique form, similar to the original prismatic base, he could access to. When the telephone broke, he didn’ t throw it, the necessity made him suspicious. This telephone had been made in the ex-German Democratic Republic as it seems it stayed ten years under the bed or in a wardrobe. When the body of the fan broke, perhaps because of a fall, the family should be worried. A temperature of forty five degrees centigrade is a very difficult situation, the impossibility of replacing the object, because of the excessive disparity of wage, closes the debate. He has to assume the repair ; the accumulation he continued for years has a parallel existence in his memory. He remembers the old telephone. He only takes into account the physical attributes of the object. The angles and the internal plastic nerves that shape this prism with rectangular base assure the stability of the fan. The symbolic association that could appear after the repair are invisible for him. The pragmatism makes the reconstructed body of the object avoid any kind of symbolic construction intent. In Cuba, the process looks more severe as it begins with the flattening of the object’ s identity. In the US, the generic object seems to hide its identity, it yet comes flattened. From this, for the people of the Havana and from Little Haiti, a new field to pick physical virtues is open. Finally, I recently begin to associate this phenomenon to the ideas of Oswald de Andrade, specifically to his Cannibalistic Manifest (one thousand, nine hundred twenty eight). Helio Oiticica uses it to elaborate the “Super-cannibalism” concept considering an “immediate reduction of all the influences exterior to the national model”. By focusing the process on the productive universe and on the Cuban material culture, I can’t stop seeing it, literally like a super chewing, a super riding. It’s a violent action, in cultural terms, against the colonial material universe that surrounds us and which seems to be unable to solve the people life. But it is, over all, a foundation gesture to implement practices of disobedience from which it is impossible to evacuate ideological components around a culture of resistance.

ernesto-oroza-lf2

Illustrations from: Con nuestros propios esfuerzos. Editorial Verde Olivo, 1992

BM In this context, you study the way Cubans have been able to re-appropriate the means of production and to develop what you call “the vernacular industrial production”. What is this?

EO I consider it like an appropriation of the productive management, but not of the productive system. The State means have been idle for a long time. The industry paralyzed. There was no raw material and the government had lost its markets.
The Cubans created a parallel productive space, constructed machines in their houses, workshops, tools. In some cases, they parasitized the State industry where they were working; creating productions on the sly, with illegal timetables, but it is not the most usual method. The lamp of extracted acrylic we showed in the book ‹Objets réinventés› connects the two variants: the appropriation of State productive means and the creation of parallel means of production.
It was discovered by some workers during a power cut in the nineties. When the blackout occurred, the Japanese machine used to produce rods for artificial insemination remained full of acrylic in its pipes of extrusion. So, it was necessary to drain it manually and in emergency. The acrylic expelled drew in the room elliptic lines and came tough, forming a complete figure and decorated by the gravity. With their gloves put on, they began to model in the air and to experiment forms that resulted ashtrays, centrepieces… I think that the workers had been waiting with joy and for a long time the forthcoming power cut. They had a legal protection to produce: they just had to save the machine from an obstruction and this liberation allowed they to produce something they could conserve, the expelled material was considered as a waste. One of them thought he could create such a machine at home; the device used to produce fritters was an analogous model. Since then, they did not need the State productive space anymore. They did not need either the Japanese machine that was ordered a power cut each three days. The access to the acrylic was the most complicated thing, but a black market appeared for this product. There were warehouses with immobile raw materials. The State had remained paralyzed, shocked by the crisis impact and he didn’ t react. The individuals found very quickly the responsibility in them for the productive management. The implementation of a familial industry in the ninety’ s, still active, is bound to the production of plastic and aluminium objects. The scale of the productions was so big and visible that they needed a patronage, a legal source of income and support. It is not the same thing to sell illegally ten lamps of kerosene made with beer tins and to sell three thousand plastic glasses. Indeed what was called “the local industries” came on stage. It was a State institution that gave job opportunities to some craftsmen and workers. It was unifying small workshops spread all over the city a long time before the revolution: printers of Linotype, workshops of sewing, of cobblers, workshops to produce craftworks. When the crisis appeared, the local industry was the unique skilled model the State had to regulate the vernacular productive torrent. It was used as a mediator to access to the raw materials, to distribute goods and later as a controller of the tax paying, to keep an eye on the illegal practices and appropriate the inventiveness and the popular effort.
The workshops in houses turned into living systems in the centre of the city. They employed young people of the area. Sometimes you could see them enter stealthily behind a tree: it was the thin access to an improvised cellar where there were two or three machines of plastic injection. The mechanisms were incredible, they produced them by themselves. Also the moulds. The need for raw materials converts these places into very selective “black hollows”. All the plastic objects from the surroundings were absorbed by the mechanism, a kind of industrial cannibalism. Hordes of plastic prospectors were collecting containers from everywhere to feed the monster that was expelling little heads of Batman at the other side. Sometimes families were living with the machines inside the house, not in a patio or a cellar. A room during the day can transform itself into a plant to produce electric switches, pipes or hoses. Photos of children on the wall of the house and a small bedside table now used as a toolbox reappraised the past of the space. I can’ t stop using these examples to answer you. In the order of the definitions, I think that the words “domestic or familial industrial production”, allow determine a more complete form of production that holds an implicit increase of the series characteristic and of the volume of production, but that remains especially associated to the house and that mixes its activities with the domestic tasks of the family. Other vernacular and familiar features in these productions, responding to appropriation gestures, can be found in the elaboration of the designs and in the inspiration sources. In a certain way, the objects present in the house before the crisis supplied a guide to get some values by appropriating the form of a glass. They used its dimensions, decorations, ergonomic values. The family recycled the formal universe coming from the exchanges of Cuba with the communist Europe. It had a second life embodied in the multicolour plastic or aluminium.

Illustrations from: Con nuestros propios esfuerzos. Editorial Verde Olivo, 1992

Illustrations from: Con nuestros propios esfuerzos. Editorial Verde Olivo, 1992

BM In front of a perpetual emergency, these practices of reinvention extend themselves to all fields of the everyday life. You say that “the city takes place at the biological rhythm of the house”, a strong image you employ is the potential house. Would you please tell us more about this thin link between the Human and its constructed environment?

EO The crisis persistence and the hope loss in the socialist government productivity generated a mentality, a social being that I called, revisiting Le Corbusier: the Moral Modulor. I talk about an individual or a family pushed in some circumstances under the poverty line (below zero would say Glauber Rocha).They can proceed to a moral reinvention. Their actions will occur in a threshold or a moral frequency where you can’t see old historical and esthetical values, social status, urban standards and codes of citizen behavior in general. That is to say, all these conventions relative to an order now hostile and restrictive of the family survival will be questioned. The individual will register this freedom in his spaces and objects, next to the order of his foot; he will set up an unknown moral dimension. The house, and the city by extension, becomes a continuous diagram of the shrewd relations of the individual with his needs, the contextual limits and the available resources. I told in other occasions that the facades are like films displayed from the middle of the house to the exterior. They talk about the past and the recent life of the family. Indeed, they announce plans, threaten of invasions or inform on future metamorphosis and fusions: staircases which don’ t fit to any side, walls that figure expanding to all interstices, baths open to the public sight, terrace roofs invaded by materials and heterogeneous accumulations. The house like a finished entity doesn’t exist anymore. The house is like an organism that auto-constructs itself in time to the human rhythms living in it. What I call Potential House, or more recently Convergent House, is a way to live in the process (of living). I think there is no better diagram to explain the relations you ask me than the houses themselves, their surfaces, spaces and structures.

Stills from Untitled (cabaret a la deriva), 2011

Stills from Untitled (cabaret a la deriva), 2011

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